Sunday, December 28, 2008

Kick Starting Muses for 2009

I hope everyone is having a lovely holiday! I'm taking some much needed time off. I'm reading, spending time with my horse, watching Movies, playing with my new WII (Spyro the Dragon sucks hours of your life away before you notice btw) and generally I've been lazing about in a way I haven't in... erm... yeah, anyhoo...

As the New Year approaches I've been doing what everyone does and looking back on the year we're coming out of. It's been a bumpy one all told. It had it's high points but MAN were the low points low. So I'm done with 2008 and now I'm looking forwards to 2009. And the first thing 2009 means for me? Yes, you've guessed it. It's new book time. Now the plan was to have an idea already passed by my lovely ed at this point so I could jump straight in. Naturally, it still being 2008 it didn't work out that way. So I've been thinking about what to write. And this pic?

You know where I'm going here, right?

My friends. There's nothing in there. At all. Nada, zip, zilch, not a thing. Okay that's a lie. There's plenty of ideas in there but none of them are suitable for what I'm SUPPOSED to write. So, while I'm on hols and while some of you lovely guys might be browsing the internet to escape your family or to wile away a few hours between large meals, I thought - I know! - I'll ask YOU for help. And maybe it'll kick start my muse into something wonderful.

So here's my idea. It's a Modern Heat. And what would be really helpful would be if you could leave me a word or a name or a hero or heroine pic link or a favourite theme - something short but sweet. Then I'll write them down, do a draw out of a hat, and see if I can come up with a plot from whatever fate hands me...

Kinda like a pick and mix for my muse. Maybe if there were enough ideas we could keep them here or I could make a page on my website and then we could all pick and mix to see what we came up with? Then it would be helpful for lots of people and who knows how many stories we might end up with :) Anyone? I can beg if you need me to...

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!!!

A friend sent me this...

*note to self: socialize more in 2009 and extend circle of friends...*

So I've almost finished updating my website, I've gotten three great RT Reviews in a row and I've finished my first ever short story for serialization as a free read on EHarlequin in the new year. Have I finally left the gremlins behind me? MAN I HOPE SO!!!

On the subject of His Mistress, His Terms (out this month), RT said:

"To keep his latest project on track, architect Alex Fitzgerald's rock star client wants interior designer Merrow O'Connell as part of the team. She keeps putting Alex off, so he decides to deal with the matter in person. The two are shocked to recognize each other. They spent an incredible night together but never asked for names. Now they know! It isn't long before they give in to passion and Alex realizes he wants a girlfriend, but Merrow professes that just having fun is enough. Is it? Trish Wylie's His Mistress, His Terms (4) starts as a fun,
sexy romp and turns into a sensual love story. There's humor, flirty banter, oodles of passion and terrific secondary characters, which make for an entertaining read." Sandra Garcia-Myers - Romantic Times

As Gabe makes his way to the States in Claimed By The Rogue Billionaire (online now and out in January) they said:

"Claimed By The Rogue Billionaire (4.5) by Trish Wylie: Growing up together on the Fitzgerald estate, Ashling Fitzgerald and housekeeper's son Gabriel Burke were quite close until she was 17 and he was in his early 20s. Then a hurtful and humiliating incident sent Ashling running away to France. Eight years later, she's home in Ireland, and once more her life is entwined with her now-nemesis, Gabriel. Although their constant bickering and sparring says one thing, their intense attraction says something else entirely. Can they finally open their hearts to each other? This is a terrific story about letting go of the past and embracing the future. The emotionally rich journey is saturated with passion and sensuality." Sandra Garcia-Myers - Romantic Times


And last but not least we have Manhattan Boss, Diamond Proposal (out in February, and the first book I really struggled with in 2008 I hasten to add...) of which they said:


"MANHATTAN BOSS, DIAMOND PROPOSAL (4.5) by Trish Wylie: Left at the altar, Clare O'Connor turned to the best man, club owner Quinn Cassidy, for help. Quinn made her his personal assistant and rented her his basement apartment, and Clare's grateful for everything. But now she's having some success as a matchmaker and is considering going into business. So Quinn makes her a wager: If Clare finds him a woman who lasts longer than his norm of six weeks, he'll help make it happen. Clare's in, but suddenly she's seeing Quinn in a new light, and it's clearly mutual. But can she overcome the past? Excellent characters, sparkling banter and touches of genuine emotion add up to a winner -- and Quinn's a keeper." Catherine Witmer - Romantic Times

So the year started well, and has ended on a high note. I just want to wish all my friends and readers a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

And here's to 2009 - May it bring a world of dreams and possibilities our way!!!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Yin and Yang of Writing. Pt 1.


Thanks again guys for all the comments welcoming me back and cheering me on!!! I've missed you all more than you know and it really does feel AMAZING to gradually come out the other side of this. But I said I'd come talk about it some, so here I am. And if the clouds come visit your house after this my SINCERE apologies. I just think sometimes it helps to know we're not alone on the dark days. Those people who say writing romance is easy? They wanna try making a living from it sometime and see how they get on! Just ask some of the TV show presenters who tried it this year... yuh huh... nuff said...

I think one of the biggest problems we all face is the contradictions. You kinda have to have a dual personality to write romance. And when you're digging deep into emotions on the page on behalf of your characters it can be hard not to either have it leave you feeling emotionally drained, or to balance the happiness you're writing compared to the tough things you may be facing in the real world. We have to be 'optimistic hearted' enough to believe in the power of love and that happily ever after's still exist - pouring our heart and soul onto the page - while at the same time having a really thick skin so we can deal with criticism and sales figures and harsh reviews. Romance writers, in my experience, live life on a bit of a knife edge. We can be bubbly and fun to be around and we can go through wine faster than some people go through oxygen, but we can also be incredibly insecure and unduly critical of ourselves and no amount of wine can help on the days we just plain feel like we SUCK.

How I feel we deal with this, after a few years of getting to know fellow authors, all comes down to personality. In just the same way your voice does when you're writing. And in order to deal with the hard times you gotta know yourself pretty well; particularly if you're someone like me who doesn't have a partner or family that lives in the same house who can distract me when the slump sets in. I know me. I've had a few decades to get to know me and to understand why I do the things I do - basically what my coping mechanisms are and where my strengths and weaknesses lie. A big problem I had this year were the extremes of my personality. Unlike the little faces above, I have a tendency to either be yellow or red - if I visit green at all it's as a brief skipping stone from one to the other. I can have extreme, bouncy, on top of the world yellow days - but I can also have dreadful, crawl under my duvet and stay there red days. Now normally, thankfully, I have enough yellow days to balance out the red. This year, those yellow days were few and far between - or certainly felt like they were - and weren't celebrated and enjoyed nearly enough. So the red days increased, and before I knew it I was in depression mode.

THAT'S when the 'I suck' voice gets louder in your head. And the louder it becomes the more it effects the house of cards we writer's live in.

  • The I Suck voice makes you question every single word you put on the page - aka over-editing.
  • The I Suck voice combined with over-editing means you become obsessed with things that shouldn't matter until the book is written - aka you forget to tell the story.
  • The I Suck voice complete with over-editing and not telling the story leads to avoidance - aka your word count goes nowhere and procrastination sets in.
  • The I Suck voice with a distinct lack of word count means you put yourself under undue pressure - aka looming deadlines to be missed.
  • The I Suck voice plus the pressure of late deadlines means your muse packs up and leaves due to poor working conditions and you don't get paid - aka your finances begin to waver and the rest of your world begins to fall apart...
It's a slippery slope my friends. And while each of these things is happening, the I Suck voice is slowly but surely tugging you over the edge at the bottom of that slope and dropping you into the pit of despair - while you're trying to write what will ultimately be a HAPPILY EVER AFTER. Now if your story has something deep and dark to explore then the accompanying mood the I Suck voice will bring your way will probably help. But if, like me, you tend to be about the funny and the ironic and the quick witted then you're pretty much stuffed because for me:

Personality + Mood = VOICE.

As writers we'll talk a lot about the personality types of our characters. But I don't think I'd really thought about my personality type as a writer all that much until this year. I knew how I worked, yes. But what I've discovered is it's another of those extreme contradictions when it comes to my personality. When I work with horses I'm very organized, methodical, I stick to doing things the way I was trained to do them and if I was packing for an event or for travelling with horses I would have lists and a specific way of packing and so forth. When I write? Not so organized. I'm not one of those people who can get up and stick to office hours and a specific word-count every day. I write when a scene is clear in my head and while the words are flowing I keep going - even if that means going without sleep for a couple of days. (I've discovered 36 hours without sleep is my limit) When the words stop or I find myself writing something crap I go have a sleep, let things mull over for a while, daydream, talk out loud as if I'm the characters - and when another scene is clear in my head off I go again. Not particularly healthy I know, but it's what works for me. Doesn't however, help when the I Suck voice is sounding loudly inside my head. No muse = lack of daydreaming scenes = lack of words to take a run at. I've tried being more organized and outlining a book scene by scene from the start and sticking to a daily word-count, but you know what? A part of me then finds it tough to tell the story. Cos I know what's gonna happen. There's no 'adventure' to it for me, like there is when watching a movie for the very first time. And there's no room for those little magic touches that so often appear when you're a panster. I'd miss those. My books would be much 'less' without them. So I'm chalking this quirk to my personality down to an artistic nature that is part of my so-called 'natural ability' to write... however, in my experience...

Natural Ability + Ambition + (too much) Education = LOSS OF VOICE.

This I've discovered, is an occupational hazard. And again, it's another knife edge. Your voice is what sells your first book. We're told time and time again it's all about voice. Voice can't be forced or taught in my opinion - it's a huge part of your personality, your personal experiences and opinions and therefore a big part of yourself goes into every book. I think that's why we get so attached to them. We get emotionally involved. Sometimes we literally bleed on the page. But as a series/category romance writer in a mass market, we also have the pressure of producing time and time and time again without becoming too repetitive. Some phrases and words will come up in every book because as individuals we'll use those phrases and words when we talk (a lot of people who know me from my pre-writer days say they can 'hear me' talking in my books) but we don't want the stories themselves to be too repetitive. So once we have a few books under our belt we get ambitious, we look to stretch ourselves, so we do what anyone does when they want to learn more - we read up on the subject. And this my friends? Is a DANGEROUS THING. Now I have strong opinions on this, so I expect there to be people who won't agree with me, but I really do think you need to know yourself pretty well before you delve too deep into books about writing. In my opinion, and without it being big-headed, I don't think natural talent can be taught. Methods can be, patterns can be, themes, commonalities, etc etc etc but you can read a hundred books on writing and know them all off by heart and you can fine tune what you already do - but you can't make yourself into a writer if you're not meant to be one. That's harsh, I know, but it's true. Some people can study writing for years and never finish a manuscript. Some people can have the best, most original idea in the world and can't translate it onto paper. There's an intangible that can't be taught. Full stop. Messing with that intangible can have horrific results in my experience. Because what does it do when you read too many books on writing? It can make you even more critical of your work than you already were. And when that happens what appears in your head even louder than before? Yep, that's right, the I SUCK voice. And this last eighteen months or so, what have I been doing? Yes. I've been reading more about writing. At a time when doubts were already setting in. A part of my personality is also masochistic. I know a great many writers who are the same. And this is where I'm gonna kinda contradict the whole point of this long post by saying:

Misery doesn't always love company.

Sometimes it FEEDS OFF IT. Which brings me to the pressures of online promotion and guest appearances and online communities versus writing time and having a life... But I'll come back to that in my next blog...

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Repossession Of My Life

Is gradually taking effect...

Having come back from the States with an all new flattening disease and fighting my way through the worst case of writer's block/absense of muse in my life I then progressed to a laptop that played up. Then it crashed. Then it DIED. With all my files inside it. One frantic dash to computer doctor later and we had the file we were working on while he tried to get the rest of my life onto a disc. I can pack a lot into two years apparently...

Now while still fighting muse and trying to finish book (that ended up three months late - yes, you read that right; not three days or three weeks - three MONTHS late) I got word my website had crashed. And keep in mind three months without finished book = three months without pay. I can't afford to replace laptop with a spare at this point...(anyone coming to tell me this job is easy does so at their own personal risk about now. I won't be held accountable for my actions. You've been WARNED) I tried pleading with nice computer man for website stuff - cos all my website files were in sick laptop you understand... I then missed renewal on crashed website and nice website provider naturally DELETED all my files - am now begging nice computer man. Nice computer man gives sick laptop brand shiny new hard-drive and begins reloading two years of files. Nope. Laptop not playing. Nice computer man very apologetic. Trish now ready to huddle in a corner, rocking and gibbering... Laptop officially DEAD. Fried motherboards are apparently bad things. Who knew?! I'll know when I'm suffering third degree burns on my legs again that the over-heating isn't just bad for ME...

Now keep in mind while all this is happening we're STILL trying to write a book. Do we feel my pain yet? This year my life has been a house of cards. This week I thought about where it all started to go wrong when the year had such a good start and held so much promise. Then I remembered the Christmas tree I didn't take down till - you know - Easter. Not playing with THAT karma again I tell ya!!!!!!

So. Book now gone. Short story for eharlequin online read gone. Proposal for new Modern Heat ready. And having spent two months begging, borrowing and stealing laptops to work on in erratic bursts what did Trish do? Well not only did she get a pretty good idea about what kind of laptops she HATES she went out and bought not one but TWO of the little suckers the millisecond she got paid. Next time I'LL BE READY.

Dear GOD don't let there BE a NEXT TIME.

To Lorraine P, Anna, Rachel, Melissa, Ray-Anne, Michelle, Donna, Natasha, Ally, Nicola, Barbara, Melissa, Rita and Marilyn who left comments of encouragement on my last post - THANK YOU!!! I would hug every one of you if I could!!! And to all the people who helped gentle me through the clouds with emails, phone calls and cards - honestly - you have NO IDEA what it has meant this last while when I seriously contemplated throwing in the towel and never writing another word again! And Jenny, my lovely editor, who isn't paid any extra for therapy sessions or for listening to writers who CRY down the phone to them - I LOVE YOU. NEVER LEAVE. EVER.

I'm gonna try and get back on track now. Website is back up, but not updated cos naturally new computers don't have the program I run it off. I'm not even gonna shed a tear over that. This year has taught me how much I can survive. But I will come back and talk to those of you who asked about surviving the dark, deep pit of despair I've been in writing wise, and how finally I'm feeling like the clouds are clearing and theres a hint of a rainbow on the horizon...

Hopefully I won't pass on the clouds...

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Update

Today I sold the book that was originally due on the 1st August.

I think that gives you an idea of how much of a hole I've been in...

NOW I have to try and put my life back in order. Lemme know if you want me to start up the blog again, otherwise it may land on the long, long list of things I'm trimming back in my life ;)

Website should be back up soon. Once I have my comp de-virused.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

I Dunno Why It Is...

That some foreign book covers just appeal to me more than others...


I'm sure it'll come to me... Answers on a postcard please...

Meanwhile yes I am buried deep, deep, deeeeeppp in the cave. With dire warnings to FOCUS and NOT to show my cyber face on the internet. I can remember a time when I used to be able to write you know. Sigh.

So I thought I'd leave you with the scenery instead.

You're welcome!

Oh P.S. This cover is best appreciated horizontally. Not that I'd know obviously - it's just a hunch...


Friday, September 5, 2008

Me In Various Different Locations

I'm all over the place this week. In more ways than one. So if anyone has a coffee in their hands and a few minutes procrastination time then why not come blog hopping avec moi???

As part of the celebrations for her year of her 50th Book I'm over at the VERY LOVELY Liz Fielding's blog and you can be in it to win it for a signed copy of The Millionaire's Proposal if you like too (if you already have it and you win I'll come up with an alternative - k?) The very fact that Liz has done fifty books kinda makes me reach for the cake. I'm fighting the good fight to get number nineteen done so the thought of what it took to get to more than double that??? Yeah. You're with me, I know you are. BRAVO LIZ and MAJOR KUDOS!!!

Then it's off to the IHeart Presents Blog where as part of the Modern Heat authors giving out advice for people writing Modern Heat or planning on entering the Feel The Heat contest - I'm talking dialogue. One of my strong points I'll admit. But then anyone who has met me will know talking has never really been a problem for me ;) I have a much longer list of things that DO. So you can come talk dialogue to me over there and ask questions and remember we're still taking Modern Heat questions here too - I'll get back to those at the start of next week. Come kick me if I don't...

Next up I'm being asked questions either today or over the weekend at the Harlequin Romance blog. Now I'm fairly sure it's not that long since I answered these for the lovely Donna but can I remember what a single one of them was at this point??? Erm... errrmmmmm.... Right. So that'll be ME going to look see what they were too then. This is a prime example of why no-one should ever give me keys to look after. Or small children. Though the sugar rush induced on a visit to Auntie Trish's usually makes the latter easier to locate. And encourages Auntie Trish to hand them back.

Please do visit and leave a comment. It makes me look like I have friends...

Meanwhile, back in the extended extended extended deadline cave I'm wondering why it was I was homesick in SUNNY and HOT California. When I left it was raining. Now I'm back it's _____ (fill in the blank at will). Suffice to say I'm considering building an ARK for all my animals. So this weekend I'll be writing and watching the rain slide down the windows while feeling guilty that my horses are still outside. Wanna tell me what you'll be doing this weekend so I can live vicariously through you???

And I leave you with a mystery to be solved supersleuths. When foreign editions arrive at my door I'm usually VERY good at figuring out where they came from. But THIS ONE is a COMPLETE mystery to me. It's obviously a language I've never been published in before. The book opens and therefore reads backwards. ANY IDEAS?! It's one of those things that's niggling me beyond belief. I NEED TO KNOW.


?????

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Review Of A Review For The Millionaire’s Proposal


Okay here we go. And before I even get started I wanna point out once again that EVERYONE has differing perceptions and they are all ENTIRELY ENTITLED to their opinion. Does that mean we all have to agree with those opinions? Work with me here. Read the line about perceptions and opinions again. Yuh huh? Okay - we’re good to go then. And yes, its gonna be loooonnnggggg…

No really. It is.


Prepare yourself for brutal honesty and a rare peek into my personal life. The latter I don’t tend to go into online and I’m not gonna elaborate on it so no therapy required – you can breathe easy. I’ve long since accepted my own particular version of insanity and the causes of it.

Now I’ve been known to disagree with the odd reviewer before in my early days. I’ve been known to rant. I like to think I’ve got better about jumping down the throats of people who don’t like my books to defend them… yes, welcome to the world of being a writer Trish. Thick skin required. I’ve learned to take the bad with the good a little better than before and like every other writer, if they’re honest about it, I’m selective about my quotes from reviews to show the most positive part them – even if it’s only four words out of 500. We’re in the business of trying to encourage people to read our books after all, and once the book is in a reader’s hands - whether or not they ever pick up another one ever again is up to them. We hope they do. We pray every day that they do. We eat copious amounts of cake while waiting to see if they have when sales figures come out… Mind you, we also leave links to the rest of the review so we’re allowing people to go read the 496 words that said the book sucked like a nine year old lemon…

Hmmm…I might need a second to rethink that one after this blog…

Anyhoos, in general The Millionaire’s Proposal has been very well received. I can put down the cake and step away. I don’t seem to have a nine year old lemon on my hands – so far. Not that I haven’t HAD a nine year old lemon. Trust me. I have books I still cringe at the thought of. Am I telling you which ones? Erm… no… I’d hate to prejudice you and I’m not looking for compliments. Though obviously my cake eating is substantially lessened by them ;) So running on the theory of percentages I was due a review that wasn’t so good. And I got it. In spades. I once headed a blog about a review as ‘It’s Official – I Suck’. This time I didn’t just suck. I crashed, burned, am TSTL in writerly terms and give nine year old lemons A BAD NAME.

Now I should point out that I’ve had five books reviewed by this site to date, by five different reviewers – and they’re a HIGHLY respected site. Two of those books held their head above water. They had some criticisms that were fair and I was just plain old ecstatic they hadn’t thought they sucked (especially since one of them was my first book!). But the last three have consistently sucked to higher and higher levels of lemonishness in their opinion and they’ve made some comments I understood but they’ve also made some that made me blink in wonder at how they read a completely different story to the one I thought I’d written. The argument from many would be that they’re not fans of series romance in general and we suffer harsher critique because of it. I dunno about that. And I’m not in possession of any actual proof, so I’m not even entering that debate. (I'm pretty sure it's libel or slander or something that might cost me money) I do think it’s fair to say they don’t like my writing. Fair enough. And they’re a busy, busy site trying to review dozens upon dozens of books a week FOR FREE so it’s not like they’re not doing a lot for the genre as a whole and their time isn’t PRECIOUS. It’s their frank and honest opinion that keeps authors on their toes and earns them respect. But I won’t be submitting to them again. It’s a waste of their time. It’s a waste of my money posting the book. I hold no grudge. It’s like dating – some relationships work and some don’t and this one plainly doesn’t. We’re just not a good match. And they’re more than capable of being mature enough to understand that isn’t meant in a stamping heels screaming and pouting kinda way.

In the same way they’re thick-skinned enough to take it when I review their review to make my point when it comes to differing perceptions…

Deep breath. Here we go.

The All About Romance review for The Millionaire’s Proposal:

‘Millionaire takes heroine on the trip of her life, traveling the world and showing her unique sights she never would have discovered on her own. As fantasy scenarios go, this one would be right at the top of my list. I've been all over the U.S., but I long for international travel, and thus far my opportunities have been rather thin. Happily, road and travel romances can let you live vicariously. Well, sometimes happily. I loved the premise for The Millionaire's Proposal, but thought the characters left something to be desired.’

This is one of the things I love about AAR reviews. They get straight to the point. Succinct description of the premise, a little about the reviewer we can understand and measure against our own experiences, a statement that everyone can agree with. And then down to the nitty-gritty. No messing around. I already know she hates this book. This is exactly why this site is so respected!

‘Kerry Doyle is about to take the trip of her life. After years of being tied to her family's prestigious Dublin hotel, she's finally put her foot down; she plans to travel the world and see everything she's been missing. On the plane to her first stop (New York), she sits next to a guy who keeps bumping into her. She says something about it, and the two strike up a conversation. His name is Ronan O'Keefe, and he actually writes travel guide books. They flirt, and he offers to show her around New York.’

(I’m now understandably wondering why it took me five thousand words to tell the reader all of that…) All absolutely true – except for the ‘he offers’ part at the end - Kerry asks. Small point, doesn't matter. I now know this person has read my book, not skimmed it or gone by the back blurb or cover and I thank her for taking the time to do that and posting a review. Without people to do this writers wouldn’t have quotes to put on websites to make it look like we know what we’re doing. They supply us with a free service that could cost us money we rarely have when we start out and they read the books because they love to read. Kudos and MAJOR APPRECIATION to reviewers WORLD-WIDE for that. You guys ROCK. I’ve said that MANY TIMES on here but it can NEVER be said enough!

‘Ronan actually has a secret. He is traveling the world too, but it is a farewell tour of sorts, because a rare genetic condition is causing him to gradually lose his sight. He plans to say farewell to all the people and places he loves, while he can still see them. When he meets Kerry, he has an inspiration: She can join him, and he can see everything through her eyes. Not only can she help him get around a bit, but her unique perspective can add something to his guidebooks.’

Yup - though that secret is on the back blurb so it’s not that big a secret before we open the book. But it is to Kerry. Now let’s see; he is, he has, he does. Erm… no. He’s attracted to her but walks away after one day, he can’t stop thinking about her and can’t stop himself from coming back. The ‘inspiration’ is an idea he doesn’t necessary think is a good one but again he can’t seem to stop himself from suggesting it anyway. He then tries to justify it to himself. The man is suffering from a small problem with a river in Egypt. That’s the way I’d thought I’d put it across. This reviewer disagrees. Fair enough. Next time I write a story I need to take that into consideration and see if I can make it clearer without spelling it out. All part of the learning curve…

‘Oh, but there's another issue. Ronan can't actually tell Kerry that he's going blind. Why not, you ask? Mostly because he's a big jerk, but also because the plot requires that his blindness remain a secret.’

Okay. Here’s where I’m starting to do the blinking at the screen thing. It’s not that he can’t it’s that he won’t. You’ve still gotta ask why not though. My answer is gonna be slightly different. He is a big jerk. But he’s a big jerk because he thinks he’s doing the honorable thing (He’s wrong) and no matter what he tells himself, he’s not coping with losing his sight anywhere near as well as he thinks he is (Surprise, surprise). Does the plot require he keep it a secret? Yes, it does. But it does because it’s a HUGE PART of his emotional conflict. Through Kerry he discovers how wrong he is.

Again as a writer I’m now asking myself why that didn’t come across. And I bloody well should be asking too. Because for that not to have come across I’ve failed miserably in what I set out to do. This is where the paranoia sets in. This is where I eat cake till I feel sick, I tell myself it's just one review and force myself to be determined to do better next time. No easy task if you’re in the middle of writing a book that already smells lemony. Whether or not I do better next time out will be in the hands of readers and reviewers. I'm open to being told I suck again. It's author-ly masochism. But that’s the chance every writer on the planet takes. And it’s why at some point ALL of us have to admit we can’t please all of the people all of the time and that some people will understand what we meant and some won’t…everyone has differing perceptions. A reader will either buy us again or they won’t. They have the power of the pocket. Too many of them vote not to spend their hard earned cash on another of my books ever again then my career is over. That’s the writers life. Soft squoodgy imaginative artistic soul that has to create believable happily ever afters pitted against big bad real world where those HEA's are as rare as billionaire’s sitting next to you on a plane. Hence why we eat cake so much

‘As they travel together, he takes care to always get back to the hotel early (because he's completely night blind) or stay at the homes of friends who are in on his secret and who will shield Kerry from the truth. Eventually Ronan and Kerry have sex, but he's determined not to continue their relationship afterwards, because he doesn't want to burden Kerry with a boyfriend/husband who is blind.’

Yup, once again true. This guy is a stubborn lump. He’s falling in love with this woman and yet he’s still determined he’s right when he’s soooo wrong.

‘Here's what I liked about this book: The Travel. Ronan and Kerry share exotic destinations and unique experiences. What fun!’

Thank goodness for that! Cos if I couldn’t get the travel part right when I enjoy it so much myself then I should be stood against a wall and pelted to death with nine year old lemons. I put a lot of personal experience from my traveling into this book and added a heavy smattering of dream locations I’d love to see. If I couldn’t get that passion across to a reader then I’d buy the lemons myself…

‘Here's what I didn't like about this book: Everything else. Ronan is probably the worst part about it. Keeping his secret is selfish, stupid, and unbelievable. But he's a jerk in other ways, too. He tells Kerry what she should pack and when she can shop. He keeps calling her "Kerry, Kerry Doyle" – which made me want to deck him with something heavy. I couldn't imagine why someone would want to be married to a lying, domineering asshole like this.’

Okay, here’s where the reviewer and I start to part company. She didn’t get Ronan at all. Keeping his secret is stupid, I’ll not argue that. Selfish? Selfish is the very last thing he’s aiming for. 'Unbelievable' is another personal perception.

Here’s how I saw it:

This guy has known since childhood that he would lose his sight. He has tried to fill his life with seeing everything he possibly could in the time he had. Just at the very moment he has to face up to the fact his time has run out and he’s going to have to give up a very large portion of the life he loves (and that makes him who he is); he meets a woman he can fall in love with who's about to set out on the very magical journey of discovery he's leaving behind. You tell me he’s gonna do well with that and approach the relationship with common sense and a clear head. Ronan doesn’t. It’s obviously a character trait the reviewer completely doesn't get and that’s her opinion and she’s entitled to it. I can’t change her mind. Other readers have understood it. I understood it when I was writing it. I’d have been as angry as Kerry was at the end when she discovered what he’d done. She pulls him on every single thing he’s got wrong from page 152 to page 156 and again from page 163 to page 173 (by which point he understands he’s an idiot, compromises are being made, she’s forgiving him and they’re moving forwards).

Thing is, now that the reviewer has decided the hero is a schmuck it colors everything else he does. Yes, there is a scene were he’s insisting she downgrade her luggage. I’ve traveled to varying places around the world (for up to a month at a time) and I wish someone would make me do this. I’m getting better at it. Theoretically. But I still carry entirely too much stuff BACK and this year alone I had to unpack my suitcases in airport terminals to get under the baggage allowance not once, not twice but THREE times. I now know to downsize to the bare minimum because I have the experience. Kerry is a first time traveler. Ronan is a seasoned traveler. He knows what’s ahead, she doesn’t. Does he go about encouraging her the right way? Depends on your personal perception… I actually thought it was a funny scene. Does Kerry understand why he’s doing it? Nope she wants to hang on to her stuff even though it’s killing her hauling it everywhere. Did I understand why I was constantly over the weight at three airports? Yes, but I wanted to hang onto my stuff even though it was killing me hauling it everywhere. And when some of my trip was bumpy and I got homesick and upset I wanted to hang onto it twice as hard quite frankly; every bottle of lotion cost me emotionally and the shoes STAYED. Those determined airport people had to bully every ounce off me with steely resolve. So in this book I obviously took my personal experience and my perceptions of travel and a part of my personality and put them all into Kerry. The reviewer didn’t get it, possibly because she hasn’t had the same traveling experiences I have. (Betcha her luggage is NEVER over the weight.) She plainly thought Ronan was a control freak when in my opinion - he was right. But just because a man is right doesn’t mean we women have to agree with him. Kerry disagreed with him and thought she was being bullied but the simple fact is her stuff was like a security blanket to her when everything else was so uncertain and she was thousands of miles away from home doing something completely out of her comfort zone. She was putting up a fight. Even if it involved petulance…

"What the time had done was demonstrate the change in their relationship- yes, his proposition to act as travel guide while journaling her reactions along the way had done that to begin with - but the first leg of their trip had highlighted it in spades. And, honestly, she kinda missed the ease they’d had with each other in New York. Her luggage was almost the last straw…” Page 55.

“Having her stuff with her was a kind of security blanket; he got that.” Page 58.

The when she can shop part? I know exactly where that came from. Ronan made a statement in the book about having shopped with a woman but once in his life and it being a test of a man’s patience. So when Kerry says she’ll have to shop to replace the stuff he’s downsized he tells her its not gonna happen. He’s not gonna let her replace all the stuff she didn’t need in the first place now he’s got her to get rid of it. This was supposed to be a joke women who have shopped with men would understand. I obviously didn’t make that clear enough…So we’ll make a mental note of that one then Trish...

As to the ‘Kerry, Kerry Doyle’. It’s how she first introduces herself and it becomes another running joke as the story progresses. At least that’s how it was meant. Again. A sense of humor is as wide ranging as perceptions after all. But I guess by this point if you’re forcing yourself to read a story about two people you can’t stand because professionalism dictates you keep going - every tiny little annoying thing that might have slid by with people you liked better suddenly becomes the equivalent of fingernails down a blackboard. As a reader I’ve had books I’ve tossed after chapter three. I have the luxury of being able to do that cos there’s no pressure on me to finish it and I don’t then go on and say who they are in a public forum, cos I really can’t do that (combination of ‘been at the other end’ and ‘what comes around’). And yes, there have been things in ones I’ve persisted with that I’ve thought oh COME ON - so fair enough.

‘But Kerry hardly deserves a free pass. She might as well have "doormat" stamped on her forehead. Her family is wealthy, and she has the means to travel, but she waits until her thirties to do so, because her family doesn't want her to leave, even for a minute. She should have told them off years ago. On the plus side, her submissive nature is sure to come in handy in her eventual marriage to Ronan "You'll Pack What I Tell You to Pack" O'Keefe. I guess you could say these two are made for each other, but that doesn't make them any more palatable.’

Here’s where we enter the quagmire of people’s differing perceptions on what constitutes a heroine who is TSTL. (And since I’m pretty much killing all my sales on this book by giving away the entire plot to make a point, I’m gonna hope if nothing else people will try and read it to see what their opinion is.) Kerry is wealthy. She does have the means to travel. She does wait until her thirties to do it, and her family is needy and doesn’t want her off on the other side of the globe when she’s always been there for them before. All absolutely true. She should have told them off years ago. If it was me I would have. Loudly. Submissive nature? Well let’s see what you think. Kerry had her own dreams and plans when she was younger. Then she lost half her family in one fell swoop in a car accident; mother and twin brother (see previous blog post on me and the body count theory/method of murder). Now I’ve lost close family members and I know what grief is like. This you don’t get over in a big hurry. This is a life-altering experience. In times like this a family rallies round and the strongest ones hold the rest of them together or at least bloody well try to. In Kerry’s case she stepped up to the plate and took on a role she had never intended to take on. She gave up her own dreams and plans. She knuckled down and got on with it and learned everything from scratch and then spent years trying to help support her needy family emotionally while burying herself in work. Does that make her appear like a doormat to some people? Maybe it does. But I for one know what it takes to try and conform to the expectations of others while living a life you never planned on having. I gave up writing at twenty and didn’t lift a pen for well over a decade because I was given so much pressure from people who told me it would never amount to anything and I needed to get a life and a job and earn a living. Enough people tell you that you start to believe it; we're good at stomping on dreams when we leave childhood behind sadly. So I became a driven career girl. I did well. For a long time I was head hunted from one job to another. The years rolled by. I met a guy. Got engaged. I was living a complete lie. Then one day I stopped and took a look around me at the life I would have for the next fifty odd years. And I summoned up the courage to walk away from every single thing that made me unhappy and to try for the dream I’d left behind. I sold my first book on my first try. Am I a doormat? Yeah honey, you come try it. Was I a doormat for more years than I care to mention? Yes, as hard as it is for people who have met me now to believe - I was. I really, really was. So the very fact Kerry had the guts to go for something she wanted for herself having lived for so long doing something she’d never asked for in the first place doesn’t make her TSTL. It means she’s STRONG. Does strong mean abrasive and argumentative and a dozen words I can’t put on this blog? I don’t think it has to but then I’m a ‘do unto others’ gal. Funnily enough so is Kerry. In-my-opinion. Not – plainly - in the opinion of this reviewer…

As to ‘I guess you could say these two are made for each other, but that doesn't make them any more palatable.’ Like I said. Opinions and perceptions differ universally. In this persons opinion the characters suck nine year old lemons. Full stop. I quite liked them myself. Ronan is capable of taking some of the weight off the shoulders of a woman who has carried a huge burden for most of her life while encouraging her to reach out and grab hold of her dreams and Kerry is strong enough to help Ronan along the path to the man he'll become when he's no longer able to do all the things that were such a huge part of who he was. I think that's healthy. I think they'll have a good life together. That was the ending I thought I'd written.

‘Since books often get automatic points from me just for exotic and fun settings, you'd think this book would have a real leg up on the competition. And it did, initially. But in the end, a trip's not all that fun if you don't like your traveling companions. And I don't think I'd really want to go anywhere with this pair.’

Oh well. You can’t win em all. And in this particular case, like in so many things in the world with so many different people, we’re gonna have to agree to disagree. This vision of the characters is most certainly not what I was aiming for when I wrote the book; as I hope you can see from yet another long, long, long blog post. There’s no way in hell I’m changing this readers mind, even if she reads this blog. And that’s fine. Seriously. I’m not even eating cake over it. I respect the site and a great many of the books they’ve loved, I’ve loved. But then there are probably just as many books they’ve loved, I’ve hated and they hated that I’ve loved. C’est la vie.

For my quote on the website I can of course put:

“As fantasy scenarios go, this one would be right at the top of my list… I loved the premise for The Millionaire's Proposal…”

And the link would allow my website visitors to read the rest if they so desired ;) It gives me 23 good words out of a possible 648 so for 625 words I still sucked nine year old lemons. But then as I’m a percentages gal I’ll compare the overall review to:

“Kerry and Ronan are perfect for each other and I fell in love with these two characters right from the beginning of the story.” Simply Romance Reviews

And:

“Ms. Wylie struck the right chord with this book, and there really is nothing not to like about it. Not one single, solitary thing." Romance Reader At Heart

And:

“Ronan does not trust himself enough to tell Kerry the truth. He thinks her kindness is a weakness while Kerry thinks kindness is a strength needed in any relationship. Ms. Wylie has written a fun story showing love can overcome any obstacle." Coffee Time Romance

And:

“The Millionaire's Proposal (4.5) is fresh, amusing and charming, and it has a solid core of emotional truth too. A keeper." Romantic Times

And:

“The dramatic conclusion makes this a romance whose insight into love will resonate with anyone who has loved or hopes to love deeply." Merrimon Reviews

And:

“Yes, I was prejudiced and wasn’t expecting much. Imagine then my surprise when I found myself totally blown away by the book–not only enjoying it, but actually giggling and sighing as I read!” Armchair Interviews

And:

“Trish Wyle touches the heart with THE MILLIONAIRE’S PROPOSAL. Creating characters that are easy to empathize with, she plunges them into an adventure of a lifetime.” Romance Junkies

Feel free to visit all the links to search for lemons. Does this mean this reviewer was wrong and I’m right and they should review all my books favorably just because a book did well with so many other people? Nope. It just demonstrates the problem with perceptions. We bring them to the table as readers, as writers, as reviewers, and in every other corner of our lives. It’s why no-one is ever completely right or completely wrong. Me? I’ve buffered the edges of the grey areas with cake. Lots and lots of cake. The. End.

Next up more Modern Heat Q & A’s and hopefully I won’t start another debate…

Monday, September 1, 2008

Hugh Jackman Tour 2008!

The little pink dancing guy is TWO YEARS OLD today and if you think the medicine is still getting to me then you can find out what I mean HERE.

And that naturally means that today is Hugh Jackman appreciation day! So to add to the fun I naturally am FORCED to place a picture of this lovely man on my blog... Oh the stress of it all ;) Rather appropriate for me this year though cos as of today The Millionaire's Proposal IS OUT and the inspiration behind Ronan is... you've guessed it... Mister Hugh Jackman! He proved too tricky for me as a previous hero and I had to re-cast but for this book he was PERFECT and Ronan really came to life for me! So THANK YOU HUGH!!!


Next up I'm gonna take a step back in the Modern Heat Q&A and talk a bit about some of the things I touched on in the last Blog regarding differing perceptions when reading a book. The tongue in cheek TSTL example I used has touched a chord with a few people and I just wanna try and clear it up a bit before I answer any more questions. To do that I'm gonna throw an example of one of my own heroines basically considered TSTL out there into the public eye. Yes - I do have them apparently. Do I think they're TSTL? Well no, obviously I don't. But then what I consider TSTL is not gonna be the same as the next persons idea of what's TSTL. And in the very same book the hero is considered a - and I quote - ' lying, domineering asshole'...

That book? Is The Millionaire's Proposal...

Sorry Hugh!!!

Now knowing me I'm probably gonna dig myself an even deeper hole than I already have - that's the beauty of a conversation like this not being held face to face. And I will say from the get go that no ten readers, or authors, or reviewers will ever come away with the exact same opinion on a book as everyone else - they'll even take different things away from it. It's actually one of the things I LOVE most about books in general. You put a group of series/category authors in the one room and ask them to debate it and many of them will leave that room vowing never to speak to several of the others again. It's not bitchiness. It's because we invest so much of ourselves into what we do that we tend to be passionate about our work and our lines. It's also our varying opinions and voices that make each and every line so confusingly diverse for anyone targeting that line and some readers will love one voice, some will hate it. It's the EDITORS decision at the end of the day whether a book does or doesn't fit in a specific line and that's why Guidelines are called Guidelines and not RULES.

A lot of our paranoia and the need to fight our corner for the books we love so much is that we've been so heavily criticized in the past that we now feel the need to fight back. Figuratively speaking the pink worm has turned. (ooohhhh I'm COPYRIGHTING THAT!) I could stand here and say not all Modern/Presents heroines are passive, not all Romance heroines are old fashioned, not all Modern Heat heroines are so defensive they come across as pricky - does that mean the vast majority of them are? No. Does it mean NONE of the are? No. In-MY-opinion. Will I debate this one till the cows come home over bottles of wine with author friends - hell yeah. Will others agree with me? Will you? Quite possibly not. I may even have lost friends in the last two paragraphs. But if there's one thing I've always done on this blog whether people agreed with it or not it's be what and who I am. I always thought that was the whole point of blogging. It's a personal thing. And I could jump in here every day with a smiling face and pretend like I live this perfect little life and everything I write is gold and being a romance writer is like living in an idyllic world full of bright shiny happily ever afters that keep me looking younger than my years. But I'd be lying so badly it would eventually poison my soul and turn me into that witch from The Wizard of Oz who gets squooshed by the house at the beginning of the movie. I've even tried smiling from the wrists down during the tough times here and if you're a regular blog visitor you'll KNOW how well THAT ONE worked out!!!

So to all I have offended with this blog I apologize. I really, really do. It's not aimed specifically at anyone anywhere. It's just me. I am what I am. And I'm pretty sure the warranty is up on making any major changes or replacing worn parts...

And in my defense, if I DIDN'T have this edge to my personality there wouldn't be a little pink dancing guy having a birthday today...

I'll be back with more about that example of perceptions taken from The Millionaire's Proposal next time. If you've read it feel free to say if you liked or didn't or what you took away from it and I'll even tell you what I was aiming for when I was writing it. And feel free to ask more questions on Modern Heat if you have them. I'll work through them as I try to finish this damn book that walked me into a brick wall of blankness over a dark pit of despair at the weekend. And if you completely disagree with everything I've said in this loooonnnggggg explanation of another part of my insanity then I'm as open to the scathing comment and the debate as I am to a nice comment or a cyber hug.

I'll just eat more cake with the former than the latter.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Modern Heat Q&A Pt 3.

Am loving some of these questions you guys are bringing my way!!! Thank you! And so long as you keep em coming I'll keep answering em ;)

Janet asked: What about character careers for this line. Can heroines be artists or have quirky jobs? And can heroes still be in normal jobs such as fire fighters or do they now need to be super wealthy?
This is one of the most fun things about this brand shiny new line for me. There are firm favorites when it comes to fantasy, n'est pas? Tall dark and handsome is a classic. Alpha male is a classic. Millionaires are often billionaire's nowadays but that's inflation (I've patented the squillionaire btw so if you use that term please give me a shout out - I'm thinking ahead with the world economy the way it is and all...) - cos stinking rich is a fantasy right up there with the Prince from fairy stories. Sexy, well do I really need to point that out?

Now let's look at those fantasies from the point of view of Modern/Presents - THE top selling line. Why do they sell the way they do? Because they tap into the fantasies my friends. Some may not be particularly PC in this modern age but we're talking FANTASY and PURE ESCAPISM here. Remember that. And then remember that Modern Heat has frequently been dubbed 'Presents Younger Sister'.

So what does that mean?

I'll give you my take on it shall I?

It's a brand shiny new century our brand shiny new line finds itself in. From a marketing point of view I'm assuming we're here to help tempt a new generation of readers across into the line. Quite possibly the kind of readers who might consider a milder mannered heroine as TSTL. (that's too stupid to live for those not in the know) This may well be the reader who doesn't 'get' the fantasy of being blackmailed into bed by a gorgeous rich alpha male. Nope, this would be the reader who if she walked in that heroines shoes would be seeking a restraining order or a court case for harassment or might merely engage a swift upwards jerk of a well placed knee...

The Modern Heat heroine would agree with that reader (She may well feel bad about the latter but she'll justify it by telling herself he had it coming...) And if there's gonna be any seriously hot horizontal OR vertical OR balance defying action coming out of any blackmailing it'll be on HER TERMS as much as HIS. Or she'll put up one hell of a fight. This heroine may be as susceptible to a decent fantasy as the rest of us with a pulse but she'll go into it with her eyes wide open (or she'll THINK she does). And this kinda gal can be as quirky and original as you like when it comes to her career BUT she will have expectations of that career the way all women her age will. Chances are she'll have plans and goals and will be climbing an invisible ladder in some form or another. Modern day women will get that. They might envy little Miss TSTL when it comes to being waited on hand and foot, her ability to buy Manolo's and having this stunningly sexy male tend to her every...erm... well you get where I'm going - BUT she'll wonder what the hell TSTL does to fill the time and keep her brain active while she waits around for him to finish running his empire. Where are her girlfriends for the gossip factor? How many gay BFF's does she have? Why doesn't she understand texting lingo? And why in the name of all that's Cosmo didn't SHE have a go at seducing HIM???

Now I should point out here in bold lettering for emphasis that NOT ALL MODERN/PRESENTS HEROINES ARE TSTL!!! It's all in the interpretation my friends. And readers tastes are as individual as authors voices. I KNOW. I'm a reader FIRST. So please - no hate comments. I bruise easy.

So hopefully that answers the first part of the question.... if not feel free to elaborate and I shall follow suit. Any old excuse me ;)

Now. Modern Heat heroes. Let's just take a moment to sigh shall we?

......

...... S-I-G-H.

We could also add a superlative YUM at this point. This guy is fantasy in hyperdrive. He's the main reason readers are drawn to the line and I for one GET THAT!!! To my mind he's the guy who in a few years has the potential to be an ideal Modern/Presents hero. He's sex-on-legs. He's confident to the point of slappable but carries it with so much disgustingly irresistible charm you kinda forget about the slapping while staring at him in stunned disbelief from a new-found horizontal position. What stops him from becoming the kind of tyrant some readers perceive Modern/Presents heroes to be? (and again I hasten to add NOT EVERYONES OPINION) Answer? Our Modern Heat heroine.

Is this guy rich? Editorially we have moved in that direction, I don't think anyone will deny that. After all we want to appeal to existing Modern/Presents readers as much as we hope to bring new readers to the line, right?! What you do to keep it fresh and to add that Modern Heat dash of brand shiny new century is to find ways of making him rich in todays world. Read Forbes online. Read Hello magazine. Have a look see where modern day millionaire's (and lemme tell ya there are more of them nowadays than there ever were and a great many of them are younger now than they ever were! Hence the rising number of Billionaires....) are making their money. Internet entrepreneurs..... telecommunications... media... the younger generation of moneyed families and European royalty... These guys are OUT THERE. And they play as hard if not harder than many young millionaires did decades ago. Just read a paper or two for the associated scandals! And remember as a society we are living longer - so even if these guys are inheriting money the chances are they won't be a CEO (unless they built the company from scratch) or being handed the keys to the kingdom as fast as they might have done a few decades ago (unless their parents were useless and they've stepped up to the plate and salvaged the family fortune). These guys have time to play. And if they're building on their fortunes at the same time? GOLD my friends. Pure Modern Heat GOLD.

Me? I like to mess with my millionaires. (I WISH!) The delicious Gabe for example made his money in construction. He's a hands on kinda guy. He worked for every cent. And he isn't changing who he is for anyone....well.... except possibly my heroine that is ;) And Adam? Well for a good portion of the book Adam is perceived as being the family rebel. He left when he was 21 and has returned on a stonking great beast of a motorcycle with ATTITUDE. To the naked eye he doesn't appear to be filthy stinking rich. But he is. He's also got a genius level I.Q. And the one, in the end, turns out goes hand in hand with the other. Mind you - it's also part of his conflict. A BIG PART. I like to play with the fantasy some. Mind you I also like it when my heroines are irreverent about the importance of money. But then for a Modern Heat hero who has worked his perfectly toned buns off for that security it's a tad annoying not to be respected for having earned it...

My advice would be to look at the classic fantasy hooks of the Modern/Presents line as much as you study the Modern Heat line. Then think of how you can put an original twist on the kind of reader favorites that make the line the mega-seller it is! Bottom line? A Modern Heat hero could probably become a Modern/Presents hero.... A Modern Heat heroine? Might be a harder sell...

But that's just my opinion.

Please remember the easily bruised statement...

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Modern Heat Q&A Pt 2.

More Modern Heat type questions to answer while the competition is running and we wait to see if anyone reads my post about dialogue when it appears on IHeart Presents ;)

Soooooo...

Melissa asked: How do you keep the light, fun, flirty tone throughout the whole book? I've done it once and not sure how I can recreate it.

And then
Aideen said: ... is the conflict in Modern Heat really a lighter version of the conflict we see in Modern? Or is it just dealt with differently because of the editorial guidelines? Does that make sense to you? If a person has to think of ways to draw out a sustaining conflict for a whole book, does that tell you something?


Now. You may well be reading those questions and thinking HUH? They're not the same Trish - get off the cough medicine! But work with me here. There is usually method to my madness. Mostly. More or less. Okay then - it makes perfect sense TO ME.

Cos for me the one kinda comes from the other. In Janet's question in the last post we touched briefly on how a heavy backstory/conflict can weigh down our story with angst. Simplify the conflict and you may think it means it's harder to maintain throughout the story but I'd disagree. To prove my point I had a think back to the conflicts I've used in Modern Extra's/Modern Heat so far. Pre-present editorial guidelines I had Firefighter whose job and firefighting family were his life versus Firefighters daughter who refuses to get involved with a firefighter who might die like her father did... then we had lacking in confidence stay-at-home overweight self-help book writer versus uber confident never-stays-home gorgeous Middle East Body guard... So in the first one I had the heroine fall for the kind of guy she swore she would never get involved with and the hero fall for the one woman who might cost him everything else he held dear - simple but effective I hope you'll agree. In the second I had polar opposites and yes, it was pretty much as simple as that when it came down to it.

The fun and games then came in showing they couldn't fight the attraction between them regardless of the reasons they already had for not getting involved. Sometimes the wit came from things they said to fend each other off. Sometimes it came from sarcasm (but that was probably mostly ME). Sometimes it was because their 'other half' had done or said something to remind them of why getting involved in the first place was a bad idea... But every single time it was action and reaction - bouncing back and forth from each other in the same way the sparks are flying. Does that make sense?

Break it down a little more in a Modern Heat context. 50k odds of a word count. Now, how many K is the average sex scene content for me... Lemme just go look up the stats on that from a couple of my last ones (the current editorial ones)... *snigger* okay 7600 and *ROFL* 12K!!! I KNEW Adam had made Gabe look like a puddy cat! But I digress...

Let's just say 10k is sex. That leaves 40k. And that my friends is not a whole heap of room. Trust me. 4500 for my first chapter set up and 1400 of an epilogue and that left me 32 odd k for the whole rest of the story in my last one (less actually cos it was the one with the higher sex word count). Consider how much of that is dialogue from a dialogue heavy author like moi and are we seeing where we might have a little bit of a problem fitting in anything too heavy or convoluted conflict wise??? Mmm-Hmmm... And that book had a PLOT too!!!

So what did I do? Let's break it down into the basics. I presented my heroine with the kind of guy she would never in a bazillion years have seen herself getting involved with. I gave a woman who believed in love and happily ever after even though she'd been bruised a coupla times the kind of guy who was too sexy to deny but who was never, ever gonna be a happily ever after and made no bones about that fact. There was a small misunderstanding at the beginning that she allowed to continue for safety sake. He drove her crazy, she fought back. He discovered the truth and pursued her, she discovered that when it came to sexual attraction and a potent male mother nature was on her game and the imperative to mate with the strongest of the species was tough to fight... (by now understandably I WANT HIM)... getting horizontal is of course amazing and has an emotional impact (much to my alpha male's surprise and of course he fights it) and suddenly perceptions and convictions CHANGE. The last part of the story then becomes how they overcome their initial perceptions of each other (showing growth) and move forwards into a future that goes beyond the last page (often with compromises on both sides). TA-DA!

Now this book DID have back story. It was fairly heavy emotionally. It also had a father with Alzheimer's... which technically was one step towards a body count but it wasn't over done on
the page. You'll hear TV show fans talk about what happened in 'Offscreensville' and with this book there was plenty in Offscreensville that was touched on on the page and hinted at but never explained in detail. You have a clever, smart, savvy reader with an imagination of their own (they picked up your book so they're obviously beautiful and have excellent taste too!!!) and they're more than capable of filling in any blanks on their own should they feel the need to. The crux of the conflict of this book was simple. End of.

Sustaining it? Ahhhh.... now that's a whole other blog....

More questions answered when I have more words on the page. Keep em coming ;)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Modern Heat Q&A Pt 1.

Ooooh you guys had questions!!! I LOVE IT when that happens ;) Okay here goes, and I'm gonna start with Janet's and then go to Melissa and Aideen's cos theirs are so similar... Janet said:

I saw this in the guidelines: "Although conflicts should be realistic and believable, in this series it is not necessary for the hero and/or heroine to have a massive tragic and/or traumatic pasts to create those conflicts."

I've noticed that in the recent Modern heats I've read, there is less mention of the characters' backstory than in previous books in the line. Is this a slight change for the line? Or just something I'm reading too much significance into?

cat


Okay. Here's my two cents worth. And remember that part of the diversity of this line is the varying different approaches to the same thing and the many, MANY different voices...

So - In my opinion - what I think this means is that there doesn't need to be a high body count for there to be a believable emotional conflict that will sustain your story. Natasha Oakley and I used to kid around about this in the Romance line when she was going through her three hankie weepie phase. We'd talk body count. Dead mother, dying father, baby teetering on the brink... the higher the body count the better we felt. But by using that kind of emotional conflict we're setting a 'tone' for the book that can be quite depressing, aren't we? And a Modern Heat is all about that fun, sexy sassiness we all love, so a high body count drama isn't gonna help... ALSO a conflict that heavy is gonna eat up your word count and in a Modern Heat you're gonna lose a goodly portion of your word count already on the s-e-x. So keep it simple and then twist it a tad I say - at least that's what works for me these days. And yes. The line has changed in the last year or so, without a doubt. So some of the stuff that worked a year ago won't necessarily work now. And we dropped 10k off the word count from last year too so less room for backstory...

I'm not saying a zero body count is a necessity either mind you. But what I AM saying is if there has been a heavy conflict or loss in the past the chances are your characters will have dealt with it and moved forwards before your story starts and it's something more internal that holds them back from the other person during your story... If that makes any sense at all???

Ask more on this topic if you need to and I'll keep going ;) AND YES JANET to emailing again :)

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Feel The Heat Competition


As you may have heard by now - Modern Heat is having a competition to find new authors ;) This an a-m-a-z-i-n-g opportunity for aspiring writers to get their foot in the door with one of the most exciting lines out there at the moment! Exciting in what way Trish? Well you tell me how often writers have a chance to be there at the get-go of a bright shiny new line?! And the growing success and associated buzz attached to this line is testimony to how well it's been received by readers. Last year when I was at Nationals in Dallas Modern Heat or Extra as it was then was barely mentioned. Industry people were aware of it's existence and that it was coming to the USA but it was all very *civilized* if you know what I mean. Calm is maybe a better word. Or professional. A kind of wait and see approach from those in the know... The month after Nationals was when the first four Modern Extra's came out as Promotional Presents and sold straight onto the Waldenbooks Best Selling Romance list waaaayyyyy above projected sales expectations and well, the rest is now history - already ;)

This year at Nationals in San Francisco it was DIFFERENT. This year you mentioned the words Modern Heat and suddenly you were being asked a bazillion questions. People KNEW what it was but still wanted to know more. They knew it was doing well and wanted to know more. People who had been reading it were bemoaning the fact they were finding some titles difficult to get hold hold of. How could they tell which ones were Modern Heat's in the line-up? (and in fairness they have a point here with the changing of titles and covers et all - though I do think that will get easier next year with titles being darn close if not the exact same as in the UK/Ire/Aus and NZ - as demonstrated by my book here His Mistress: His Terms which is a December Presents) Bottom line? They wanted to know MORE!!! And they knew the authors names well enough already to seek them out and come speak to them in corridors or elevators ;) This year it really felt like the line had ARRIVED (if that makes sense). It made me feel very very proud to be a part of it!

And now's YOUR CHANCE to join the crew! COMPETITION RULES as as follows:

1. To enter, submit by e-mail a Microsoft Word file of a typed, double spaced, first chapter (no greater than 5,000 words) of a story you have written which is suitable for the Modern Heat series, and a synopsis (no greater than two pages in length) of the complete novel, along with your name, address, e-mail address and phone number to: feeltheheat@hmb.co.uk

2. All submissions must be in English and be received no later than September 15th, 2008. Story concept must be original and must not have won a previous prize/award nor have been previously submitted, reproduced or published.

3. Entries will be judged by a panel of members of the Harlequin Mills & Boon editorial staff, based on the following criteria:
• Voice
• Content
• Writing Skills

in equal measure.

In the event of a tie, duplicate prizes will be awarded. Decisions of the judges are final.

4. Submissions will not be returned and may be used for promotional purposes only. All rights of the submitted work will remain with the author. Harlequin Mills & Boon Limited, at its discretion, may request to see one or more full manuscripts from contest entrants after the close of the competition. No responsibility is assumed for lost, late, illegible, incomplete, non-compliant, non-delivered or misdirected submissions.

5. This contest is open to entrants who are 18 years of age or older and is void wherever prohibited by law; all applicable laws and regulations apply. Employees and immediate family members of Harlequin Enterprises Ltd and Harlequin Mills & Boon Limited, including contracted authors, their parents, affiliates, subsidiaries and all other agencies, entities and persons connected with the use, marketing or conduct of this Contest are not eligible to enter. By acceptance of a prize, the winner consents to use of his/her name, photograph or other likeness for purposes of advertising, trade and promotion on behalf of Harlequin Enterprises Limited and Harlequin Mills & Boon, without further compensation, unless prohibited by law.

6. Winners will be determined no later than September 30th, 2008, and will be notified by e-mail. Winners will be required to sign and return a Publicity Release and Affidavit of Eligibility certifying his/her eligibility and that the submitted chapter and story outline are his/her own original work, and it has not won a previous prize/award nor has it previously been submitted/reproduced/published, within 10 days of notification. Non-compliance within that time period may result in disqualification and an alternate winner will be selected. Harlequin Enterprises Ltd and Harlequin Mills & Boon Limited, their parents, affiliates and subsidiaries are not responsible for errors in the electronic or printed presentation of this Contest. Winners agree that Harlequin Enterprises Limited and Harlequin Mills & Boon Limited, their parents, subsidiaries, affiliates, agents and promotion agencies shall not be liable for injuries or losses of any kind resulting from acceptance of or use of their prize.

7. Prizes:

1st – winner will be awarded the services of a Harlequin Mills & Boon editor for one year [1st October 2008 – 30th September 2009], who will offer advice and guidance on contest entry, plus subsequent, previously mutually agreed submissions of partial or full manuscripts aimed at the Modern Heat series.

2nd - consultations for two runners-up on their first chapter and synopsis aimed at the Modern Heat series (50000 words) with a Harlequin Mills & Boon editor.

Only one prize per person. No cash alternatives.

8. For a list of winners (available after 1st October 2008), send a self-addressed, stamped
envelope to:

Harlequin Mills & Boon Limited
Eton
House
18-24 Paradise Road
Richmond
Surrey TW9 1SR
United Kingdom

Now over at the IHeart Presents Blog you can find advice on writing for the line from many if not all of the Modern Heat authors (moi included at some point this week I think and then again in September) I've been reading through them and lemme tell ya folks there are some absolute GEMS in there! And you definitely get the vibe of the line. So get thee there I say!

My first blog will be on dialogue but if you have ANY QUESTIONS you want to ask me about Modern Heat or writing for the line then don't be the least ikkle bit afraid to ask either there or on here or by email through my website and I'll post the answers here for all to see. Consider it open house if you like and swap notes or ask each other questions or egg each other on. Seriously. Me Blog es su Blog and all that...

I'll be here. Writing frantically. While still dying. Can't begin to tell you how ill I am. Managed to stand up straight and throw a ball for the dogs for ten minutes today and was so dizzy and tired I had to go lie down for three hours to recover. They make STRONG GERMS in the States is all I can say! (Mind you my Mom reckons I was sick like this last year when I came home too...Me? I don't have that good a memory) And I really haven't got the time to be ill. Have I mentioned I have a London trip and TWO - not one but TWO public appearances at Irish Literary Festivals in September??? No? Well yes I do. And another book due October. No pressure.

Much.

Right. Shall now go take more cough medicine, paracetamol, fluids and the like, refill my hot water bottle and get back to Hollywood and my screen-writing couple who are currently locked away in his Malibu beach house...